First thing I did when I got home was take a bubble bath. Well, second thing after tucking my Hermes scarf safely in my dresser drawer. I deserved the bubbles after such a harrowing experience, and I could soak as long as I liked since I didn’t have to get up at any certain time tomorrow. I was luxuriating in a milk bubble bath with candles flickering, the late, great Barry White on the CD player. I had a glass of red wine from which I periodically sipped. I closed my eyes as the tension ebbed from my body. I didn’t want to think about anything, and a bubble bath was the only thing that allowed me not to think. Well, that and cleaning, but I was in no mood to clean. A slob by nature, I turned into Donna Reed on crack when I cleaned. If I had been a fifties’ housewife, I would have had to be sedated 24/7 because somebody would always be tracking dirt on MY CLEAN FLOOR.
“We have to stop meeting like this.” I sighed at the sound of God’s voice. He seemed to take a perverse delight visiting me while I was laving. I wondered if there was something salacious in this occurrence. “It’s the only time you’re not occupied with anything else,” God said, sounding amused. “Besides which, it’s the only time you really relax. A relaxed you bodes better for our conversations.”
“Dual monologues,” I interposed, still not opening my eyes. “You say Your thing and I say my thing, but they don’t often intersect.” I paused as I loofahed my elbow. “To what do I owe this pleasure?” I wasn’t the most gracious of hosts, granted, but He wasn’t the most gracious of guests, either, so that made us even.
“Just wanted to see how the evening went,” God said, His voice casual. I finally looked at Him and saw that He had chosen purple this time. It was a good color on Him, but I loath to tell Him so. He seemed to have more good colors than bad, which made sense, I supposed.
“What was so urgent You had to leave?” I countered, closing my eyes again. I didn’t want to become accustomed to the sight of God in all His glory; I just wanted Him to go away.
“Can’t tell you,” God said tersely. “I had to leave Zeke in charge.”
“What exactly does Zeke do?” I asked, my curiosity getting the better of me. Of course, I’d read about the Angel of Death and all his duties, but Zeke didn’t seem to fit the stereotype. He certainly wasn’t as good-looking or compassionate as the Angel of Death on that angel show some time ago—the one with the Irish angel and the African-American angel.
“Trade secret,” God said briskly. I peeked at Him, only to find Him staring at me in return. I closed my eyes again. “I told you to tell Ned’s parents before the shindig, not after.”
“What difference would it have made?” I exclaimed, sitting straight up in the tub and opening my eyes at the same time. When I realized I was flashing my breasts at God, well, I sunk back down in a hurry. This was getting old. There had to be some way to keep the Almighty out of my bathroom.
“Not a chance,” God said cheerfully, humming a tune under his breath. It took me a minute to recognize it as ‘I Like the Way You Move’ by Big Boi of Outkast. Great. God’s a rap fan. Who would have figured? “The difference is that the Changs would have went through with the party and would have time to simmer down.”
“You really are an optimist, aren’t You?” I asked, my tone incredulous. “Telling them before would have been worse because their indignation would have had time to grow. Mr. Chang carries a grudge like nobody I’ve seen before. One time, an acquaintance of his didn’t say hi to him as they crossed paths downtown, and Mr. Chang didn’t speak to him for a year. There is no way in hell that he would have calmed down about Ned being gay, especially if we’d told him with his friends there.”
“At least you got a date out of it,” God said, sounding impossibly smug.
“Did you send Ted to dinner tonight?” I asked suspiciously. I wouldn’t put it past Him to pull a stunt like that.
“No,” God said. “He’s one of Ned’s oldest friends who just happened to have his other party canceled for the night. Sheer coincidence, I’d say.” I had no response to that other than outrage. How dare He interfere in my life like that? It was bad enough that I was pregnant with the next savior, but I’d be damned if He set up the rest of my life for me. “I don’t get it. Most people would be pleased to have their wishes come true. What’s your problem?”
“My problem is that it’s all fake and phony! My problem is that I don’t want to live a charmed life; I just want to live mine! My problem is that you’re worse than a meddling Asian mother, for God’s sake. Pete’s sake. Joe’s sake! You have got to leave me alone, understand?” I could tell by the look on God’s face that He would do whatever the fuck He pleased, no matter how much I pleaded. How like a man. If I ever needed further proof that God was a man, well, I just received it.
“I’m not a man. I’m not a woman. I just am.” God had changed back to black, which seemed to be His favorite color. Or maybe it’s the one He thought looked best on Him.
“OK, time for You to leave.” I closed my eyes again and sunk down into the bubbles which were beginning to cool. I turned on the hot water only to have nothing come out of the tap. “Come on! Don’t do this to me, God. What the fuck do You want?”
There was no answer. For a moment, I allowed myself to hope that God had gone away. I still felt His presence, however, so I reluctantly opened my eyes. There He was, translucent this time, so I could just distinguish His outline, and He was peeved. How could I tell? Because He had His lower lip sticking out and His arms crossed over His chest. Yes, God was pissed off, and He didn’t care who knew it. He glared at me, waiting for me to ask what was wrong. Well, He’d have to wait until Hell froze over for me to ask.
“I can arrange that,” God said in a frosty tone, still translucent. It was unnerving to hear a voice coming from His general direction but not to see Him, as it were. “It’s time Lucifer was taught a good lesson, anyway.” Before I could say anything, He had opened a portal so I could watch as He froze Hell.
“What the fuck?” I sat up again, so engrossed was I in the display.
Hell was nothing like I imagined. Instead of containing people hanging from the walls burning forever and gnashing their teeth in agony, it was a desolate space full of dull browns and grays. The people, if they could be called that, were allowed to roam freely, but there was nothing there. It was bleakness over torture, and it was infinitely worse. As the land froze, the people slowly turned from gray to blue. They began shivering with nothing more than thin rags to keep them warm. They jumped up and down and stamped their feet. They huddled together, their bony hands clamping each other around the waist. They curled into balls to try to keep in the warmth. Nothing worked.
The scene shifted to what appeared to be a castle. I used the word ‘castle’ loosely because there was nothing magnificent about it. True, it was immense in size, but it was falling to wreck and ruin. There was a rotting smell about it as if the souls of millions had perished inside. I wrinkled my nose as the odor was so powerful, it reached me in my bathtub millions of miles away. If the rest of Hell was gloomy and dreary, here was nothing short of, well, a Black Hole. That didn’t do it sufficient explanation, but it would have to do. The absence of light was so absolute, it was terrifying. Little droplets of ice were forming on the roof, only to be instantly melted away.
“Jesus,” I said involuntarily as the most exquisite man I’d ever seen came storming out of the castle. His wings were magnificent in span, and it appeared as if he would fly straight to us. He had golden hair which appeared as if it were made of real gold it was so shiny. His violet eyes would have caused Elizabeth Taylor in her heyday envy, with long lashes to boot. His body was beautiful with its sculpted definition. He was wearing no clothes, so I could see that Dogma had been wrong in one area—angels do have genitalia. He was trembling with rage, which made him even more magnificent. I had seen renderings of Lucifer Morningstar, of course, but none had done him anything close to justice.
“My fallen son, Lucifer,” God said sadly. “Did you know that he would have been the savior of the world if things had turned out differently? Instead, he is the keeper of the lost souls.” There was actual pain in God’s voice, which made me warm up to Him microscopically. Until I remembered He’d just put the deep freeze on Hell because I provoked Him. “He is so beautiful, it’s difficult for me to look at him.” I sensed that this was the closest God came to regret, even though He didn’t voice the words out loud.
“You listen to me!” Lucifer bellowed in our general direction. Even his voice was gorgeous with its sonorous overtones. If he were a human male, well, he would be physical perfection personified. “I will not tolerate You disturbing my realm. You hear me? When I fell, You told me that I would be ruler of Hell. How am I suppose to maintain control if You interfere whenever You want?” Before God or I could say anything, Lucifer manifested in my bathroom. Even with all I’d experienced in the last few weeks, it was too much; I shrieked at the top of my lungs.
“Quiet,” Lucifer said disdainfully, flicking me a glance. Apparently, he liked what he saw because he flicked me another one. Or maybe he was just sizing up my soul for further storage. The thought made me queasy, and I sunk as far into the bubbles as I could without drowning. “This conversation is between Him and me. It doesn’t concern you.” It was interesting that Lucifer didn’t refer to God by name or Honorific. Of course, he wouldn’t, but it was still interesting to see the one being who didn’t appear the least bit cowed by the Almighty. Except Zeke, of course, and he didn’t count as he was a minion of the good Lord. I refrained from telling Lucifer that if he wanted to keep his arguments with his Father private, he shouldn’t have them in my bathroom.
“Lucifer, I was just proving a point to Margaret here.” God’s voice was deceptively mild, but I detected a tinge of triumphant in it. I wondered what that was about, then promptly forgot it as I watched the scene unfold. It was like the prodigal son tenfold, which was just how I liked my drama. Or I would if I could be out of the tub and fully dressed. Oddly enough, my skin was perfectly smooth though it should have been wrinkled like a prune by now. I had a hunch that I had God to thank for that. “You may return to your realm now and find it exactly as it was before.”
“It may not be much, but it’s mine. Mine, do You hear me?” Lucifer towered over God, his wings taking up most of the free space in the bathroom. Lucifer waited for God to speak, but God would not. I had my eyes glued to Lucifer, admittedly for prurient reasons. He was a breathtaking specimen of maleness, and I was running out of superlatives to describe him. “I’m warning You.”
“You’re warning Me?” God said softly, not taking His eyes off Lucifer’s face. As I was watching the Morningstar as well, we both saw the flicker of discomfort cross his face.
“Just stay out.” Lucifer glanced at me one more time, this time more appraisingly before spreading his wings and flying out the portal. When I looked at Hell again, it was back to the way it was before—which was weirdly more comforting than it was frozen.
“What the fuck was that little show for?” I asked God indignantly when I could catch my breath. He didn’t answer me, and I thought He was in a coma the way He held Himself so still.
“I must go now,” God said several minutes later. “We’ll talk again.” He closed the portal and vanished, not to my surprise. I knew that He would come and go as He pleased, and it wasn’t worth getting pissed off about. I sank back in my bubbles, glad to be alone again.
“Good, He’s gone.” The voice came out of nowhere, or so it seemed.
“What the fuck?” I screamed at the top of my lungs, frightened out of my mind. My eyes flew open out of their own volition. There was Lucifer standing in front of me in his full glory, his wings extended. “How, why, what?” I stuttered, unsure of what I was trying to say. The nearness of his pulchritude was overwhelming, and I had an impulse to genuflect. And I wasn’t even Catholic! What did it say about me that I was more impressed by Lucifer than I had been by God? Nothing good, I was sure. And what about the portal? Hadn’t God closed it? Maybe He hadn’t sealed it. If so, why the hell not?
“I wanted to talk to you, but He had to leave first.” Lucifer threw up his hands and made some motions in the air. He ended by tossing some kind of dust on top of me, causing me to sneeze several times in succession.
“What the hell?” I sat up, unable to control my coughing. When the fit subsided, I noticed Lucifer eyeing my breasts with—delight? Greed? Lust? Whatever it was, it caused his cock to harden. I scooted back under the bubbles, though they were pretty depleted by this time. “Please, Morningstar, tell me what you want with me.” I wished I hadn’t phrased it that way, but I was past discombobulated.
“You know who I am?” Lucifer preened, his wings expanding even further.
“How could it be anybody but you?” I asked, aware that I sounded like a star-struck schoolgirl. I could have also pointed out that the little scene between him and God had pretty much settled the matter of his identity, but he was talking before I could say anything else.
“You are perceptive,” Lucifer said solemnly, gazing into my eyes. “People of your race usually are.” He threw more dust in the air, causing me to sneeze anew.
“That better not be fairy dust,” I said indignantly, close to my last straw. If Titania, Oberon, et. al, stormed my bathroom, well, I was going to lose it.
“It’s not. It’s a temporary shield. Even He won’t be able to penetrate it for three minutes and twenty-two seconds, so talk fast. What does He want with you?” Lucifer looked down at me, making me feel more exposed than I already was.
“I can’t tell you,” I said, the words reluctantly falling from my lips. I wanted to share everything I knew with Lucifer, but I was dimly aware that God most likely would not approve. It seemed more prudent to be on the right side of God than that of the Morningstar.
“I can make it worth your while.” Without seeming to move, Lucifer somehow fit himself into the tub so he was facing me. Our groins were inches apart, and I was keenly aware of his desire. And my own. “If you tell me, I will make you queen of my realm. You will help me keep the souls as they eternally mourn their banishment.” Was it wrong of me to say that I was tempted? Nonetheless, I had to turn him down.
“Morningstar,” I began, but Lucifer placed his finger on my lip. His touch was warm, verging on hot. I guess it would be considering the usual climate of where he resided.
“Don’t say a word, Margaret Marilyn Wang,” he whispered, pressing his lips close to my ear. I shivered at the feel of his breath, but I tried to hide it from him. Even though he didn’t seem able to read my mind, I had a hunch he knew exactly his effect on me. “Just think about it.” Lucifer cocked his head and listened for a minute. His eyes darkened as he slipped out of the tub; I felt a sense of loss as he exited. “He’s coming. I will return.” With a flap of his wings, he was gone. Since he had warned me, I wasn’t surprise when God showed up again.
“What did My child want?” God asked, staring down at me.
“He wanted to know what You wanted with me, of course,” I said sharply. I was tired of the games, and I wanted desperately to be alone.
“And did you tell him?” God asked. His countenance was inscrutable, but I sensed an emotion God didn’t often emit.
“Of course not,” I said, sliding down into the tub again. The water was lukewarm again, but before I could turn on the tap, the water turned instantly hot and the tub filled with bubbles. Idly, I thought about how nice it would be to have God as a personal attendant.
“I don’t have the time for this,” God snapped, pacing back and forth. “Don’t tell Lucifer what I want with you when he returns. I must go.” With that, He was gone. Finally, I was alone. I waited several seconds to see if any other otherworldly beings were going to invade my privacy, then relaxed when none appeared. I stayed in the tub for another hour, not needing to add any more hot water to keep it warm and toasty. The benefits of being personal friends with God, I guess.